Buddha Meets the Matrix

What does Buddhism have in common with The Matrix?

I've just returned from a weekend retreat at Kripalu with Professor Robert Thurman, the first Western Tibetan Buddhist monk.   This was a deep-dive immersion into Buddhist philosophy.  Thurman makes several connections between Buddhism and the Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix.  

The Apparent Becomes Transparent:   One of the core practices of Buddhism is meditation, the practice of disconnecting the brain as you lose your sense of self. Thurman says, "You are like one of the characters in The Matrix, present and active as a real being, yet at the same time realizing that the apparent reality that surrounds you is only illusory."  The characters in the Matrix pass through different levels of being,  Which is their real world?  The one connected via the computer, or the one with which they see around them?  Who is the real enemy, which one of the thousands of Agent Smiths?  

There is no reality,  you create your own reality:    The mild-mannered soft-spoken Neo (aka Keanu Reeves) can not conceive that he could be the Matrix.  Note the pun in his name being Neo, which stands for "The One".  Neo thinks to himself, I am a nobody, I can not possibly be the hero of the world.     Thurman draws the connection back to Buddhism, "None of us knows who we really are.  Facing that and then becoming all that we can be- astonishing, surprising, amazing- always fresh and new, always free to be more, brave enough to become a work in progress."  Buddhism calls on each and every person to aspire to be their best self, to cultivate a life filled with Generosity, Justice, Patience, Creativity, Contemplation and Wisdom.  Can you be brave enough to see yourself as a work in progress and to strive for more?  Can you become all that you can be?

Control your mind, control your life.   Neo's triumph in the movie, is his ability to learn to control his mind thoughts.  He achieves mastery even going so far with sci-fi special effects to deflect flying bullets with his powerful mind thoughts.   Thurman notes " The mind is the most powerful controller in the whole universe. It determines not just what you do, but how you interpret what you do.  It determines how you make decisions, what you chose to remember, and how you plan for the future.  Your mind is responsible for all of your experiences, bad and good."  The Buddhist mindset calls on us, in each and every moment of our day, to choose how you see and experience the moment. 

As an executive coach immersed in coaching executives to achieve their best possible self, I strive to share these concepts with my clients while also applying these ideals to my daily life.   Thurman notes that you don't need to convert to Buddhism.  No matter what your religion, the Buddhist principles of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline apply to you. 

I embrace seeing myself as a work-in progress, and the journey ahead....For more Robert Thurman's amazing lectures are podcasts available at https://bobthurman.com/   




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The Mind of a Professional Athlete


The Mind of a Professional Athlete

Pro athletes all have coaches. They have coaches to train their muscles and coaches to train their minds. Athletes are applying the latest techniques from the emerging field of neuroscience to literally rewire the way they think about their bodies, stretch for more wins, and rebound quicker from losses.

Mind Training or “Coaching” is going main-stream. Today surgeons, hedge fund traders, sales executives, and seasoned entrepreneurs are leveraging coaching to maximize their professional capabilities. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt says it so well when he speaks about why he works with a coach (more here).

I am an executive coach. I work with people, across various professions, looking to maximize their potential. I became a coach, after experiencing the benefits of coaching first-hand. Coaching helped me envision and declare my goals, reframe the blocks holding me back, and ultimately I feel I am living my life now more in accordance with my values.

Here is why coaching works:

1. Creates awareness & focus. Coaching provides you that block of time you set aside for you. You move yourself up your own priority list. You typically meet with your coach twice a month, over phone, via Skype or, in person. You set just two hours aside each month, time to invest in yourself.

2. Naming your goals. Coaching will break your day-to-day cycle, the “groundhog” day effect. You will visualize your short-term and long-term dreams. Visualization will enable you to create tangible ways to get there. You have the answers locked inside your mind somewhere. Your coach brings you powerful questions, ones that help unlock the path forward.

3. Identifying your blocks. Coaching engagements are typically six months periods of time. Along your journey, you will identify blocks, behaviors, or just things in your way. Coaching does have moments of hard-work. Your biceps won’t get stronger if you only lift 5 lb. weights. Your mind will need you to work in some repetitions with more weight too.

4. Accountability. Your Coach becomes your trusted accountability partner. With the meetings, you create a planned way to move forward towards obtaining your goals.

5. Recognition. Your Coach recognizes your efforts and applauds your initiative. We often don’t get the recognition we so deserve in our daily lives. Your coach provides you that important feedback, a powerful motivation to keep pushing forward.

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